July 16th, 2012 by garrettcortese

Welcome to the biggest and best wakeboarding contest ever

The much anticipated Red Bull Wake Open took place this weekend in Florida, starting with the boat event at one of the sickest private lakes known to man. With helicopters buzzing around, TV crews shooting everything, and the brand new Malibu Wakesetter MXZ bringing the heat, the event went off in a way only Red Bull can make happen. Riders came ready to rumble, and with the special format of this boat event, there was some intense riding. Each rider was given two passes to throw down their five best tricks, but one of the tricks had to be a 360 or less, and while falls didn’t “hurt” a rider’s score, a pass with no falls was obviously favored.

After four heats of five riders went through the qualifying round, the semifinals were broken into two heats of four riders each. The top two riders from each heat were then sent into a four-man final. Each rider in the final was given a double up at the end of their two passes, regardless of how many falls they had.

Semifinal 1:

  1. Harley Clifford
  2. Adam Errington
  3. Danny Harf
  4. Steel Lafferty

Semifinal 2:

  1. Rusty Malinoski
  2. Raph Derome
  3. Phil Soven
  4. Shane Bonifay

Finals:

  1. Harley Clifford
  2. Rusty Malinoski
  3. Raph Derome
  4. Adam Errington

The final four riders brought out their best tricks in an attempt to make the podium and put themselves in the lead going into the rest of the weekend’s events. For most of these guys taking home a title like the Red Bull Wake Open champion would be a serious feather in their cap. Never before has there been an event as large, legit, and all-encompassing as the Wake Open, so all the riders are bringing their A-games.

Day 1 – Boat

Day 2 of the Red Bull Wake Open went down in a big way in downtown Tampa because all day long the riders were going nowhere but up. The big air aspect of the Wake Open brought out some unbelievable progression from some of the best riders in the world. Put it this way, there were ten guys in the event who could all throw variations of double flips (and all landed them in practice leading up to the event). Riders are using the System 2.0 and kickers to push their riding to new heights. Red Bull bottled that in the big air event and with the shore around the Tampa Convention Center filled with spectators, the show was one heck of a spectacle. Lots of big air, some big falls, and some insane maneuvering.

Raph doubling down on his way to 1st place

In the end Raph Derome took home the title, putting himself firmly in first place for the overall title headed into the third and final event – wake park. Raph threw down is signature smooth mute double half cab roll throughout the event, but his unbelievably stomped heelside 1080 put him over the top for the win. Brenton Priestley and Aaron Rathy took home second and third place respectively with their own insane versions of mute double half cab rolls. Fourth place went to the 14-year-old phenom from Thailand Daniel Grant, whose mind boggling rewind spin variations had spectators and riders shaking their heads in disbelief. Needless to say the Wake Open is setting a new standard for wakeboarding events and the riders are stepping up to the plate.

Day 2 – Big Air

For the third and final event of the three-day Red Bull Wake Open, riders took to the entire Unit park setup in Tampa Bay and put on one hell of show for the thousands of spectators who were there, and the hundreds of thousands more who were watching from home on NBC. Despite being tired (and in a lot of cases beat up from big crashes) after two solid days of competition, every rider put it all on the line to take home the title of Wake Park champ.

After an intense semi-final round, the final came down to four of the best wake park riders in the world: Nico Von Lerchenfeld, Raph Derome, Dominik Hernier, and Daniel Grant. These riders not only represent the future of park riding, but they also represent the amazing growth wakeboarding has experienced around the globe in the last decade. Lerchenfeld is from Germany, Derome is from Quebec, Canada, Hernier is from Austria, and Grant is from Thailand.

Each of the riders threw down their best lines and the riding was amazingly progressive and insane to watch. Each rider’s control and precision throughout the park was on display for the world, and it was easy to see why the four of them were in the finals. After taking a 3rd place finish behind the boat and a 1st place at big air, Raph was a lock to win the overall title by just making the final of the park event, but that didn’t mean he was going to go easy. He continued to push himself and his fellow riders with his smooth half cab double mute rolls and heelside 1080s. That drive pushed Raph back to the top of the podium, proving to everybody there and watching, that he is a force to be reckoned with in all aspects of wakeboarding. Given how young he is, that drive is going to push him to some pretty incredible places in the future.

Day 3 – Wake Park

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